Well-known doc battles Alzheimer’s
Not a day goes by that Anna
Durst doesn’t grieve because of
something that has taken over
her husband’s body.
For nearly four years, Dr.
Ed Durst, 77, has been battling
Alzheimer’s disease. Since this
past March, Anna has been able
to no longer take care of him, and
he has been confined to a memory
care unit in Owatonna under
“It’s a terrible disease,” Anna
says. “It steals your person. You
still see your person as who
they are on the outside, but they
are just dwindling away on the
Anna describes her husband’s
disease as being “pretty advanced.”
She said for a long time
he recognized that his memory
and ability to function daily were
slipping away. It made him sad,
angry and frustrated, she said.
Now, she added, he is beyond
that and doesn’t really remember
what he’s lost.
Dr. Durst served the Owatonna
community for 28 years as a
general practice surgeon before
retiring in 2002. He and Anna
have been married for 23 years.
Anna recalls that Ed began
showing a few little signs of
problems, but they dismissed it as
normal signs of aging. After Ed
suffered a heart attack in March
2015, he recovered by being on a
ventilator for a couple days. However,
his symptoms with memory
loss increased a lot after that
and he was soon diagnosed with
She said Ed experienced
trouble with anything sequential
involving finances, bills, payments
and numbers. He began
forgetting everything and had
major gaps in short-term memory.
She also noticed he would tell
the same stories over and over.
Ever since Ed has moved into
the memory care unit, Anna tries
to spend at least a couple hours
with him every day. She said he
still recognizes her, but no longer
knows any other family members.
The couple has six children
and several grandchildren, who
have all handled the situation
in different ways. Not surprisingly,
it has left family members
“We try to remember it’s the
disease, not him,” Anna said.
“We try to remember the person
he was. They look the same, but
they are totally different.”
Anna works full time as a
nurse at Owatonna High School
where she has been for the past
15 years. Prior to the school, she
worked for almost 20 years at
Owatonna Clinic where she was
able to work together with Ed.
In addition to working, Anna
is left to do everything at home by
herself. “It’s horrible, it’s really
horrible,” she said. “I try to make
all decisions based on what he
would want. I try to remember
who he was even when they days are hard,” she added.